As February rolls into March and Spring Break rapidly approaches, there’s something else to celebrate besides the brief vacation away from MTU: Women’s History Month! The United States has officially recognized March as Women’s History Month since 1987, and the celebration seems to get bigger each year as feminists around the country rejoice and unite with some good old-fashioned girl power.
The month-long celebration first started off as only a week, celebrated locally in a community in California. The dates were picked to line up with March 8th, which is International Women’s Day. Back in 1980, Jimmy Carter made the celebration official by proclaiming the week as National Women’s History Week.
Presidents continued to nationally recognize the week as so until 1987 when Congress passed a law declaring the entire month of March as Women’s History Month.
One might ask, what is Women’s History Month? What exactly is it meant to celebrate? The month-long holiday is meant to celebrate the awesome things women throughout history have accomplished.
Throughout the history of humankind, women have long been left out of historical documentations of what life was like. The month of March (and any other month!) is the perfect time to celebrate these women who didn’t get recognition for their work back then, and to recognize the accomplishments of modern-day women as well!
There is also usually a theme to go along with the celebration, to recognize women from a certain branch of history. The theme is decided each year by the National Women’s History Alliance, and this year they have chosen “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.”
This theme celebrates women who have spearheaded the ends of war, violence and injustice and who have used nonviolence to change society. Nonviolent change has been driven by visionary women throughout the years including women’s suffrage and racial justice. These women have built supportive and nonviolent alternatives to create and advocate for change and give a voice to those who may find themselves underrepresented or those who are victims of violence. Among many others, women like Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony are perfect examples of what the theme aims to celebrate.
Some people may wonder why the United States needs a month dedicated to the accomplishments of women. The month also acts as a perfect way to raise awareness about challenges that women still face in society, from lack of representation in certain fields to the “non-essential goods” tax placed on feminine hygiene products.
As more and more females enter into political fields in the US, more awareness is being raised about these issues and more is likely to be done about them. It’s crazy to believe that in all their years in the United States, women have only had the right to vote for less than a century!
Next year, women will have had the right to vote for 100 years, following the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Women have come so far since then, and there will be only more positive outcomes in the future!
It’s important to recognize women and their accomplishments so young girls can see that they can be anyone they want to be when they are older, and they do not have to fill any roles or stereotypes presented in history before them.
Dr. Myra Pollack Sadker, a researcher, author, professor, and activist, may have said it best: “Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womenless history, she learns she is worth less.” By celebrating Women’s History Month, we can empower women everywhere to be the best in whatever it is they want to do.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Lode will also be featuring an article in our next issue about the presence and influence of women at Michigan Tech specifically. Women have played a role here for far longer than you might think and have done a lot more than might be expected.
Keep an eye out for our next paper when we get back from spring break!
*Note: This story ran March 7